I loved the premise of Final Girls by Riley Sager. Think of the girls who survived at the end of the classic slasher films you watched when you were younger. They barely scraped by to the end covered in the blood of their friends, surviving wounds that would be fatal on almost anyone and don’t forget those ear-piercing screams they were known for. Think of Neve Campbell from Scream, Jaime Lee Curtis in Halloween and Heather Lagenkamp in a Nightmare on Elm Street. They all fought their captors and made it out alive. These are Final Girls.
The author of Final Girls, Riley Sager, wondered what happened to these girls after all the horror, gore and violence. Were they able to go on and lead normal lives after they’d been touched by such darkness? Could they ever trust again? Did this experience alter them for good? In the beginning of the book we’re introduced to the main character, Quincy Carpenter, who 10 years ago went on vacation with a group of her friends and, like every slasher flick we’ve ever seen, was the only one to return. While she hides behind her domestic goddess blog full of cute Halloween themed cupcakes and pretends that she’s moved on, that night haunts her to her very core as you can see from her fondness for xanax and wine. It’s helpful that she doesn’t remember a whole lot of went happened that night as her memory has chosen to block out the worst of the horrors she suffered and she’s doing a pretty good job of covering up her internal scars until a fellow Final Girl, Lisa, is found dead after committing suicide in her bathtub.
Before Lisa died there had been three girls that a newspaper had dubbed the Final Girls and the nickname had taken off like wildfire. With only two of them left the other final girl, Sam, decides it’s time for Quincy and her to finally meet. Sam is a reckless force whose own blood-filled past and personal issues with her family have left her deeply broken. Her and Quincy bond immediately due to their shared background of being survivors during killing sprees where everyone else died, but Sam may not have the best of intentions as she befriends Quincy. It soon becomes apparent that Sam may not be all that she seems to be and that Quincy may, yet again, be in grave danger. Until Quincy can remember the night of what happened to her she and the people she loves are nowhere near safe. Who will be the last Final Girl?
I really, really wanted to like this book, especially since it had been a Stephen King recommendation and I waited with bated breath for it to finally come out! It has everything that typically tickles my fancy from its bloody premise to its thriller vibes, but Final Girls just fell flat…on a rusty knife. The author ends up constructing a plot that could make so many people the possible culprit and then ends up going with one that makes the least bit of sense. Sager fails to give the characters any real depth beyond their shared experience of that one night and I found myself not rooting for a single one of them. There was no point when I was at the edge of my seat since I didn’t feel like I had all that much invested in finding out who did it, but I trekked on just so I could say I finished and let y’all know not to bother.
I’m a lover of guilty pleasures that don’t make all that much sense (re: Pretty Little Liars), but this just stretched it too far. The motives for the guilty party were pretty much pulled out of thin air and, personally, I think it’s sloppy writing when you go back to read a book and see no clues of that person committing the crime. It just seems that the author had no idea who the killer was until the end and decided on the most fantastical ending they could think of even if it made no sense. If there’s no possibility of the reader being able to correctly guess who the killer is then you’ve done something wrong. I got a sense that the killer was the guilty party, but not because of any trails left in the book. I simply felt like this would be the most out there and predictable choice from a new writer. This was Sagers first go at writing a novel so I’ll give it a 2.5 out of 5 simply because it wasn’t terrible and the premise was amazing, but from any seasoned writer this would be a flop.
I guess I’m a final girl now because after this massacre I’m still standing!
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